It’s that time of year.
Kids are moving out and moving in. The moving out part is hard for parents; the moving in part is exciting for the kids.
We moved one out years ago, as we dropped our son off at college. We drove a block or two away from that freshman dorm, stopped the car, and cried. Our daughter, who was in the backseat said, “hooray, I get his room.” It was a long drive home and a quiet one at that. We cried a few tears that night wondering how he was doing.
Decorating his dorm room was pretty easy. A few trips to Target for a garbage can and book shelves and we were done. I think decorating a guy’s college dorm room is easier and less complicated than a girl’s.
I had gone upstairs to check on our then eleven-year-old daughter for the second time that evening. The first had been a casual visit to see how her day had been. The second visit, some 30 minutes later, was a “brush your teeth, it’s time for bed” visit. As I sat on the bed next to her on the second visit, she said to me words that I would have never said to my parents. She said, “Dad, you’re hovering.”
I would not have said those words to my parents because they would have said, “I’ll make you think ‘hovering.’” I also would not have said that to them because they would not have hovered over me. My parents and other parents of that generation did not hover. But like a helicopter, today’s parents do hover. To set the record straight, I didn’t think what I did on the second visit upstairs constituted hovering. All I did was sit on the bed next to her and remind her about brushing her teeth and getting some sleep. I hardly think that is hovering.
Lots of parents today hover. They overly try to protect their kids from any harm, any germ, any disappointment, or failure. I think that most of this hovering is motivated by fear. We see all the bad stuff on the news every night, much of which is way over-hyped, and so we feel like it is going to happen to us. We then hold our kids a little tighter—maybe a little too tight.
Someone said that “raising a child is the process of losing a child.” Jesus spoke of a time when “a man must leave his father and mother.” Many wonderful parents are struggling with how to protect their children without overprotecting. That is a fine line and tough struggle. Parents hope and pray that they have done enough to prepare their kids for life’s highest peaks and toughest challenges.
We live in a world of germs, diseases, and disasters, and as much as we try, we can’t protect our kids from everything. I’m not really sure that hovering makes them any safer anyway, and trying to protect them from failure and disappointment does them no good. At some point we have to let them go and trust God. Is it possible that hovering symbolizes a lack of faith?
Let them go and let them find their faith and find their way. And let them decorate their own dorm room.